News Releases

8/15/2014: Governor’s Highway Safety Program Marks 20th Anniversary of “Booze It & Lose It”

Governor’s Highway Safety Program Marks 20th Anniversary of “Booze It & Lose It”

Posted 8/15/2014 3:13:58 PM

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program today kicked off the Labor Day “Booze It & Lose It” campaign, which runs through Sept. 1. As part of the campaign’s launch, NCDOT and GHSP held a luncheon in Charlotte to recognize the 20th anniversary of “Booze It & Lose It” in North Carolina. Over the past two decades, the state has made great strides to save lives by increasing public awareness about the dangers of driving drunk and stepping up high visibility enforcement efforts to catch those who make the bad decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. “North Carolina has always tackled issues head on,” said GHSP Director Don Nail. “Twenty years ago, we knew our state had a problem with drinking and driving. We partnered with law enforcement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other government agencies to pool our resources to make a real difference. Getting drunk drivers off the road has been and will continue to be one of our top priorities.” GHSP started working with MADD in the 1980s to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, and reinforce the message that lives lost to drunk driving are 100 percent preventable. This team approach to improving safety gained momentum as GHSP partnered with former Gov. Jim Martin’s administration, MADD, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Forensics Test for Alcohol branch, the N.C. Department of Insurance, the Highway Safety Research Center, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and law enforcement to combat the issue. Extraordinary cooperation and commitment resulted in the “Booze It & Lose It” initiative launching in North Carolina in 1994. Since the campaign’s inception, officers have arrested nearly 1.5 million drivers for driving while intoxicated. Despite increased enforcement efforts, 8,469 individuals lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes from 1994 to 2013. Despite two decades of education, awareness and enforcement, people are still making the life-threatening decision to drink and drive. Therefore, the “Booze It & Lose It” partners are constantly looking for new ways to catch drunk drivers and prevent crashes. In 1996, NC DHHS Forensics Test for Alcohol and GHSP launched the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit. The BAT Mobile can go anywhere and assists law enforcement by providing the ability to test suspected impaired drivers on the scene. Today, there are six in operation with plans to expand the fleet in the near future. In addition to the BAT Mobile, DWI task forces are in operation in areas with the highest number of DWI-related deaths. There are currently nine DWI task forces across the state, located in the following counties, which are dedicated solely to getting drunk drivers off the roads: Forsyth;Guilford;Wake;Mecklenburg;Buncombe;Robeson;Columbus;New Hanover; andBrunswick. The public awareness and education component continues to evolve, as well. The data show males 18-34 are the top offenders when it comes to drunk driving. In an effort to reach this key population and change their behavior, NCDOT and GHSP have produced a new public service announcement that will begin running today on television and digital media. Non-traditional media will also play a significant role in spreading the word about the Labor Day “Booze It & Lose It” campaign. GHSP is sharing its anti-drinking and driving messages on Pandora, Facebook and Twitter, as well in restaurants and bars with posters and coasters reminding patrons to have a designated driver. The Labor Day “Booze It & Lose It” campaign begins today, Aug. 15 and ends on Sept. 1. During that time, law enforcement officers will step up patrols statewide day and night, and cite those who make the decision to drive drunk. ***NCDOT***
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8/7/2014: Seat Belt Usage Tops 90 Percent In North Carolina

Seat Belt Usage Tops 90 Percent In North Carolina

Posted 8/7/2014 11:53:54 AM

Raleigh – Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata announced today that 90.6 percent of drivers and passengers in North Carolina are wearing their seat belts. According to the annual seat belt survey completed in June, North Carolina has now achieved the highest seat belt usage rate in state history.   “As the first state to the launch the 'Click It or Ticket' campaign in 1993, North Carolina has long been recognized as a national leader in highway safety,” said Governor McCrory. “We re-emphasize that role today with the results of this survey, which show that a record number of North Carolina motorists are now making the smart decision to buckle up.”     The increase in seat belt usage, particularly among passengers, is due in large part to the joint efforts of the N.C. Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and law enforcement agencies across the state, who partnered throughout the month of May to increase “Click It or Ticket” education and enforcement efforts.   "I’m proud of the ongoing teamwork that has resulted in our state’s highest seat belt usage rate ever,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. “More importantly, I am proud of what these numbers mean – that our citizens are making good decisions that result in more lives saved on our highways.  We will continue to work with the public and law enforcement in our goal to reach 100 percent compliance with the law and zero highway deaths.”   The May “Click It or Ticket” campaign was developed using data from last year’s seat belt survey. This data-driven approach ensured that the outreach efforts successfully reached the right people with the right message.   “Last year’s seat belt survey showed us that passengers were buckling up less often than drivers,” said GHSP Director Don Nail. “With our partners in law enforcement and at NCDOT, we focused our public awareness campaign and enforcement efforts to ensure more passengers knew of and complied with the law requiring them to wear their seat belts just like drivers do.”   During the campaign, local law enforcement and the N.C. Highway Patrol increased patrols in the 25 counties with the highest number of unbelted fatalities and citations, and issued citations day and night to drivers and passengers who were not buckled up.   NCDOT launched an extensive statewide public awareness campaign, focusing on unbuckled passengers in May in conjunction with the increased enforcement effort. It included a new public service announcement - “Every Seat. Every Time.” - that reminded motorists that the law requires you to buckle up no matter where you sit. The PSA was tailored to young males 18-34 who the data show are least likely to buckle up in any seat. The “Every Seat. Every Time.” message was also advertised on the radio, at gas stations, in restaurants and bars, and on social media.  Following the May campaign, North Carolina’s overall seatbelt rate increased 2 percent to 90.6 percent, surpassing 90 percent for the first time. Passenger usage increased 4.8 percent to 89.7 percent, and driver usage increased 1.3 percent to 90.9 percent.   Mecklenburg County had the highest seatbelt usage at 95.6 percent. Franklin County had the lowest seatbelt usage rate at 86.5 percent.    Female drivers buckled up more often than males (93.1 percent versus 89.2 percent), and young drivers ages 16-24 are buckling up 89.1 percent of the time, compared to 85.5 percent last year.     The annual seatbelt survey was conducted throughout the month of June at 120 sites in 15 counties across the state. Trained spotters observed driver and front seat passengers of stopped or nearly stopped vehicles. Observation data was collected during rush hours (weekdays between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., or 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.), non-rush hours (weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.) and on weekends (Saturday or Sunday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.). The Research Triangle Institute certified the survey results last week.     The Research Triangle Institute selects counties that offer a representative sample of North Carolina, based on a variety of criteria including county size and fatality rate.     For more information and survey county results, contact NCDOT Marketing Specialist Heather Jeffreys at (919) 707-2665 or visit the GHSP website.                                                                                 ***NCDOT***                                                                                     
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7/22/2014: Operation Firecracker Yields Nearly 2,000 DWI Arrests

Operation Firecracker Yields Nearly 2,000 DWI Arrests

Posted 7/22/2014 11:18:21 AM

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program announced today that 1,929 DWI arrests were made during “Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” which ran from June 27 through July 6.   “The 4th of July Holiday is a great time to celebrate the freedoms we have as Americans,” said Don Nail director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “We thank our law enforcement partners for protecting our freedoms and keeping us safe by arresting those who make the decision to drink and drive.” The top five counties for DWI arrests during the 4th of July “Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” campaign include: • Wake County with 197 DWI arrests; • Guilford County with 141 DWI arrests; • Mecklenburg County with 105 DWI arrests; • Cumberland County with 88 DWI arrests; and • Robeson County with 86 DWI arrests. In addition to DWI arrests, local and state law enforcement officers issued 64,626 traffic and criminal citations statewide at 8,018 checking stations and patrols. They also issued 4,666 safety belt and 849 child passenger safety violations; 18,862 speeding violations; 278 work zone violations and 1,869 drug charges. In addition, they apprehended 1,565 fugitives from justice and recovered 108 stolen vehicles. For more information regarding “Booze It & Lose It” activities and county totals, contact Heather Jeffreys at (919) 707-2665 or visit the GHSP website. ***NCDOT***
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6/27/2014: “Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” is Underway

“Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” is Underway

Posted 6/27/2014 9:54:38 AM

RALEIGH – The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday for many North Carolinians.  Families and friends gather across the state to celebrate our nation’s independence with parades, parties and fireworks. The celebration often includes alcohol, and the holiday can quickly go from festive to fatal when people choose to drive after drinking. The N.C. Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program remind you to avoid driving after drinking, or you will get caught. “On Independence Day or any other day of the year, if you are driving after drinking, law enforcement will be working to keep you off the roads,” said Don Nail, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “Driving after even one drink is risking your life and the lives of others. It’s simple – just don’t do it. Get a ride home from someone that has not been drinking.” In 2013, there were 353 alcohol-related fatalities in North Carolina. Fewer people have lost their lives to alcohol-related crashes this year, with statistics showing 105 alcohol-related fatalities through June 20, compared to 164 at the same point last year. Stepped up saturation patrols, checking stations and increased public awareness are all playing a role in ensuring that those who decide to drink don’t drive. To keep our state trending in the right direction and continue saving lives, NCDOT and GHSP recommend these simple tips to prevent drunk driving: • Plan a safe way home before the fun begins; • Before drinking, designate a sober driver; • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation; • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement; • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely. Stepped up enforcement for “Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” continues through July 6. For more information regarding “Booze It & Lose It” activities, contact Heather Jeffreys at (919) 707-2660 or visit the GHSP website. ***NCDOT***
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5/19/2014: "Click It or Ticket" Isn't Just for Drivers

"Click It or Ticket" Isn't Just for Drivers

Posted 5/19/2014 11:47:40 AM

Raleigh — Since its statewide launch 21 years ago, the “Click It or Ticket” education and enforcement program has consistently increased driver seat belt usage rates and reduced fatalities across North Carolina. In June 2013, a seat belt survey showed that 89.6 percent of drivers were buckled up compared to 88 percent the previous year. Despite the steady increase in the number of drivers buckling up, passenger usage rates are down across the state. Front seat passenger seat belt usage rates dropped in 2013 to 84.9 percent, down from 85.7 percent in 2012. As the spring “Click It or Ticket” campaign kicks off today, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program along with the N.C. Department of Transportation reminds passengers that it is the law to wear your seat belt - “Every Seat. Every Time.” Law enforcement officers across the state will be out day and night enforcing “Click It or Ticket” for drivers and passengers who fail to buckle up. Failure to buckle up can result in fines of up to $161. “Tremendous progress has been made in driver education and awareness, and most North Carolinians know that wearing your seat belt is not only the law, but can save your life,” said Don Nail, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “But many don’t know that goes for passengers, too. The law requires you to buckle up no matter where you sit in the car. Our law enforcement partners can and will issue a seat belt citation to a passenger if they fail to abide by the law.” NCDOT produced a public service announcement to remind drivers and passengers that wearing a seat belt is not an option; the law applies to “Every Seat. Every Time.” The “Click It or Ticket” campaign launches today, May 19 and runs through the Memorial Day holiday weekend and ends on June 1. Wake County law enforcement agencies partnered with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program earlier today at the PNC Arena in Raleigh to kick off the campaign. The event was held in Wake County to highlight its decline in seat belt usage in recent years.  The county-wide passenger seat belt usage rate in 2013 was 83.4 percent, a 6.1 percent drop from 2012. NCDOT, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and law enforcement agencies across North Carolina are working together to reach a goal of 100 percent seat belt use among all vehicle occupants.  For additional information, please visit ClickItorTicket.org. ***NCDOT***
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